Life Balance: Roles > Goals

In our goal obsessed culture, elevating the roles we play can help restore work life balance.

Life Balance: Roles > Goals

The best way I have found to achieve work life balance is to prioritize my roles over my goals.

Why It Matters:

You read it all the time; you must set a goal! Culturally we act like goal setting is the only path to happiness. But Oliver Burkman in his book The Antidote points out that goals are not all they are cracked up to be. Life is more than achievement. To flourish we also need relationships, and we want our actions to matter. How we show up for others, may be more important than what we achieve.

Big Picture:

On a practical level, goals are short term. They end. Goal pursuit produces dopamine and cortisol hormones. Roles in contrast reflect areas in our life we do not want to end. Think of relationships, a career. Roles define who we are. Living a role produces serotonin and oxytocin, joy and connection.

When we build our identity out of goals, we are constantly in danger of losing ourselves. When we build our identity out of roles, we can stand on stable ground.

How To:

Elevate the importance of roles in your life.

  1. Define each role in your life.
  2. Set standards for how you want to show up in that role
  3. Get clear about who each role serves.
  4. Focus on practices, not progress.
  5. Strive for presence, not performance.


Make your roles more important than your goals to balance work and life.

Go Deeper: